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Book Club Kits: Moon Women

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

In the lush North Carolina foothills, the Moon women have put down roots: matriarch Marvelle Moon, who’s starting to lose her grip on the world after more than eighty years of life; her middle-aged daughters, Ruth Ann and Cassandra; and Ruth Ann’s nineteen-year-old daughter, Ashley, fresh out of rehab, unmarried, and three months pregnant.

Despite Ruth Ann’s best efforts to live a life that’s all her own, her family is coming together around her. Marvelle and Ashley need a place to live and Ruth Ann is unable to turn either of them away; and her womanizing ex-husband has been coming around again, dredging up the past. Now a flurry of outbursts, emotions, and outrages is shattering Ruth Ann’s separate peace. And as this flawed family comes together, so, too, do the stories of the people Ruth Ann thought she knew best.

For here is Ashley, who has spent nineteen years running furiously away from home, now finding herself on a strange journey with her unraveling grandmother. And here is Cassandra, protected by layers of obesity and loneliness, wondering how to put magic back in her life. And Marvelle, slowly losing touch with reality, privately contemplating the story of her life and the secret that would change everything for everyone — if they only knew....

By turns fierce and tender, harrowing and heartbreaking, Moon Women resonates with emotional power, holding us captive under its beguiling spell. It is an astonishing debut from a powerfully original new voice in contemporary fiction.

Read an excerpt from the novel.

Discussion Questions

  • Moon is a fairly common name in the North Carolina hills where the book is set. Nonetheless, do you think Pamela Duncan’s choice of the name for her characters has other significance? If so, what is there about the behavior and personalities of Marvelle, Ruth Ann, Cassandra and Ashley that are associated with their name?

  • At the center of the book are the female characters. The men in the story orbit around the women. Do the Moon women seem to follow a pattern in their choices of men: Jesse, A.J., Keith, and Lance?

  • We see both Marvelle and Ruth Ann as wife, sister, mother and grandmother. How are the two women similar or different in these relationships? If Ruth Ann relates to her family in ways that are different from Marvelle’s, do you think it’s a conscious decision? What, if anything, do you think she has learned from her mother?

  • By the end of the book, each one of the Moon women has changed. Whether she’s gained insight, made peace with the past, made peace with other members of her family, found the resolve to pursue a dream, each has been transformed. What are the ways in which the four main female characters change over the course of the story?